WHAT'S in a name? A lot, it seems for the Finnish mobile handset manufacturer Nokia. After the roaring success of the Moto RAZR, PEBL, SLVR and ROKR series, mobile makers feel that consumers find names easy to remember compared to the usual mundane numbers. Even LG launched it's popular Chocolate range of phones under the Black Label series.
But for Nokia, other than few exceptions, numbers have been the only way its phones have been branded so far - remember 1100, 2600, 3310, 6020? A stickler for umbrella branding so far, Nokia is now changing its branding strategy. The company believes it needs to take a leaf out its competitors' books, who have successfully proved that customers recognise, associate and relate to product names that have a meaning, and has therefore, decided to stop naming new phones by numbers and use names. As Nokia plans to dump the number system, globally, the Indian operations also seem to be gearing up to follow suit.
When contacted, the Nokia India spokesperson said, "We already use a mixture of names and numbers - for example, the Nokia 8800 Sirocco Edition launched earlier this week - and we expect to do more of this in the future. Nokia has introduced this approach to make it easier for customers to navigate across the our range of phones."
This is in line with what Keith Pardy, global marketing head of Nokia, said at a recent webcast of Citigroup's investor meeting in New York: "What you will see coming from us in the future is not just a numbering system, you are going to start to see names that carry a meaning and are important to consumers," he said.
While some players say that the naming trend will be restricted to the high-end, feature-led phones, others like Motorola are banking on names, irrespective of price slabs. As Motorola plans to unfurl a mass market phone soon, coined Moto FONE, the US-based manufacturer is sticking by its product-name nomenclature. "Consumers don't look at these names in an abstract manner and therefore, our four-letter names are worked out accordingly to convey a message to consumers," says Lloyd Mathias, director-marketing, Motorola India.
Korean chaebol LG is also banking on the name-game, albeit for its mass market phones. "We would go ahead with naming our phones in the future, but it will be confined to the high-end range of designer phones, otherwise one can't justify the cost," says HS Bhatia, national product group head, GSM mobile phones, LG Electronics India . Sony Ericsson, on the other hand, is drawing strength from its parentage. Taking advantage of the strong brand recall associated with the Sony Walkman and Cybershot, the phone manufacturer is reaping the benefits from it. "In order to create differentiation, we would increasingly tap into the value proposition of our parent company's popular brand names, which fit into our product categories," says Sudhin Mathur, GM, Sony Ericsson India.